You’re a few short weeks away from meeting your new little one; Your hospital bag is packed, you’ve installed the car seat, and have probably even created your birth plan. But have you thought about creating a postpartum plan?
A postpartum plan is often overlooked, but truth be told, it is just as important as a birth plan! (And yes, even if you have been through this before!) The transition into motherhood (or into multiple children) is an adjustment, but creating a postpartum plan can make you feel more prepared and ready for the 4th trimester.
Here’s why you should consider creating a postpartum plan, who you should share it with, and how you can make one.
A birth plan is essential to your birth experience. It helps you feel prepared for one of the biggest events of your life, and it allows those around you to be informed of your wishes and preferences while delivering your baby.
This birth plan may include:
Who you want by your side during delivery
What medication (if any) you want to be administered during labor
Whether or not you want an epidural
Which pushing positions you want to implement
Whether you plan to breastfeed or bottle-feed
While this birth plan will help guide you through labor and delivery, there are still events that may come up that you didn’t expect! The same is true for postpartum, and both plans shouldn’t be treated as “set in stone”, but rather a roadmap of how you’d like your experience to go, ideally.
A postpartum plan may include:
How much maternity/paternity leave you and/or your partner plan on taking
Sleep schedules for you and your partner
Household chore delegation
These first few days and weeks after giving birth can be exhausting! You’re recovering from giving birth, caring for a new baby, and trying to figure everything that’s new out all at once. Creating this postpartum plan and sharing it with your partner will keep you both on the same page and help things go more smoothly!
The key to creating a postpartum plan is educating yourself on the postpartum period. Knowing all of your options and knowing what to expect will help you navigate this transition as easily as possible.
You’ll most likely have family and friends that will want to come visit once the baby arrives. Discuss with your partner as well as your family and friends your boundaries around visitors before the baby is born, so there are no misunderstandings.
Write down how many visitors you’re willing to have at once, and who you are okay with coming to your home to visit the baby. You may also want to discuss beforehand whether you will be letting your visitors hold your baby or not.
Most importantly here – make a list of things your visitors can do for YOU! Can they bring you food, take care of chores around the house, or take the kids out to a park? KNOW what you’d like help with and jot down a list of things you can delegate to your visitors outside of the social aspect.
Feeding your baby will be one of your main concerns and responsibilities in the first few months – newborns eat a lot! Whether you’re planning on bottle feeding, breastfeeding, or pumping, there are a lot of things to consider!
Which bottles do you plan on using? Do you have a backup in case your baby doesn’t take your first choice?
Are you planning on purchasing a breast pump? (is it in the house, and do you know how to use it?)
If you do plan on breastfeeding, will you be supplementing at all? If so, do you have formula on hand?
Sleep deprivation in the first few weeks of becoming a new parent is normal and oftentimes unavoidable. Discuss with your partner who will be taking care of the baby overnight, and possibly even take shifts throughout the day so you both can get the much-needed sleep you’ll need!
One thing I found helpful once we had more than one child is –
I took the overnight shift! This allowed my husband to sleep over night, and then he took most of the “day” jobs from getting up with the kids in the morning, to making lunches, and school drop offs and pick ups. During all of this, I was able to rest with the baby without worrying about all of the things that needed to be done.
You’ll also want to consider sleep for your baby! Do you have a bassinet next to your bed for them to sleep in? Are you planning on swaddling them? Do you have a couple swaddle options to try? These are all things to put into your postpartum plan!
The last thing you want to be stressed about after you’ve just delivered your new baby is a pile of dirty dishes in the sink! Discuss with your partner about delegating household chores and even ask for help from family, friends, or hired help (if you’re able!). In fact, I recommend putting a postpartum doula or house cleaner on your baby registry so that you have some additional help in those first few days or weeks.
Taking as much off your plate during this time is vital to your recovery, both physical and mental.
Possibly the most important part of your postpartum plan is making sure that you are taken care of. Labor, delivery, and postpartum are A LOT. Plan out some time each day (even for just a few minutes) for yourself to do something you enjoy while someone else cares for your baby. Enjoy your coffee in the quiet, take a shower, go for a walk, read a book, or do whatever else you feel up to doing.
My non-negotiable has always been a shower. Every day, no matter how crazy, I took a shower. Sounds simple, but this was the #1 thing to help me feel alive.
The first few weeks of postpartum are full of highs and lows. Making sure you are taken care of during those lows is so important, as is reaching out to your care provider if you are not.
The most important part when creating a plan (either birth or postpartum) is to remember to educate yourself on all your options so that if things don’t go as planned, you have a backup ready to try, rather than trying to figure something out when you are right in the thick of it and EXHAUSTED.
Be sure to go over this postpartum plan with your doctor/midwife or doula so they are aware of your needs and wants. They’ll also be able to suggest adding anything to your plan that you may have forgotten.
If you are looking for additional guidance and education leading up to your birth, check out my 1-1 doula services for some personalized support! OR – download my Bump and Birth Guides for all the good info you need to feel more confident in your birth!